From the time that you are born you are under the authority of your parents/guardians. With each year of your life that passes you become more independent and usually receive more freedom. You start riding your bike down to the lake for the first time without mom or dad. You and some friends go sledding or tubing together. You get your drivers license and see a whole new level of freedom. As you get closer to 18, maybe you are given an opportunity to go with just your friends on a campout or a trip to Wisconsin Dells. But then you enter into adulthood and by the time you are 21, you have total legal freedom. What will you do with it? Each year you have more. How are you using your freedom? Is freedom for you about doing the things you want to do? Spending time with friends and trying to experience more of the world? These are not bad things; in fact, these are very good. But is there another way we should think about freedom?
In Galatians 5, Paul says that Christ came, was beaten, died on the cross, and rose again for the sake of our freedom. Now this is a little different sense of freedom as Paul is talking about freedom from sin. But it is also related in that sin can relate to our habits and the way we spend our time. For the first twelve verse Paul proves his argument and then makes a suggestion that we should give close attention.
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Freedom is exciting. It offers new experiences and opportunities. Yet, within that same freedom, there is responsibility. We should understand that other people are in need of help. That they too are seeking freedom and at times need encouragement and wisdom. But who will help them? How will they learn about finding freedom? Who will encourage them? What will they pursue based on who reaches out to them?
We need to understand that our battle as Christians, for the sake of Christ is far bigger than us. Ephesians 6:12 says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” As believers in Christ Jesus, we have accepted His free gift. A gift that is far greater than we understand and cost Jesus far more than we could ever repay. And with this new found freedom, He asks us to help others find it by serving and giving away freely. It is easy to avoid and ignore people in need. It is easy to be focused more on our own plans and experiences we want to have in our life. But with freedom comes responsibility. In the case of the believer, we are called to not just serve people, but our service to others should come from a place of deep love. We are to help others find the same love that Jesus demonstrated and gave to us by loving them like Jesus has loved us.
Because Jesus set me free, I have eyes to see how badly people need Him. Because Jesus set me free, I don’t have to carry the weight of guilt and shame. Because Jesus set me free, I can give away freely. Because Jesus set me free, I can become a servant and love people as Jesus loved. And because I am free from this world, I can trust that God will take care of me, even as I give all I have away.
How will you use your freedom?